Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tire Swings and Roses

The two "R"s asked me to come outside and watch them play today. Well, sitting and watching just happens to be one of my God-given talents, so I assented. Posy was playing on the play structure. She was next to the tire swing, looking at it fondly. Suddenly she gave it a hard push. I winced. Sure enough, it came back and laid her flat. I held my breath and watched her reaction. She got back up, dusted off the bark chips, and walked away.

I have had something of this same scenario this week. For example, (I'll just pull a random illustration out of the hat), you surprise your daughter with a weekend away to the beach with friends (tire swing push). The next week your daughter is tired, whiny, and lethargic (tire swing lays you flat).

Here's another one that laid me out this week. Your husband finally talks you into letting him grow out his hair. He does and it's curly and you love it (t.s. push). An acquaintance tells you she's thought for awhile that you and your husband were separated and you were running around with some guy with curly hair. That's why she hasn't talked to you so much lately (t.s. lays you flat).
You get the picture?
They're coming fast and furious now. Not just this week, but from many weeks.

You spend your days teaching your kids. Rowan's first day of preschool he learns, "A-All have sinned." Any time you try to discipline him after this he shrugs and says, "Well all have sinned."

You lovingly tell your son to be quiet and go to bed and he responds with, "Okay if you don't want me to ask Jesus into my heart, I won't."

You tell your friend about a fun idea and she does it before you.

You love and it's not returned the way you want it to be.

The list goes on. The tire swing is relentless. I suppose it's the same theory of the higher you soar the farther you have to fall. Is the view worth the descent?
I tried to live timidly for a while. If I pushed the tire swing, it was a baby push, one that I could handle the repercussions of. If I soared it was more of a hop, careful to keep the ground close by. That was the worst week of my life. And really, no matter how much you try to manipulate it you end up laid out on a regular basis for some reason or another. So you do what Posy did. Brush off the wood chips and walk away. And if you're going to walk away, you might as well walk over to the roses and smell them.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Miss Natalie and I decided to surprise our 10 year old daughters with a trip to the beach. So...unbeknownst to them, we packed their clothes and enough food and activities for a week long stay (we were staying for 48 hours). Avonlea was going home from Friday school with Gabrielle so they only thought it was mildly strange when I got into the car as well.
"Can't I come too?" was all I said.
They exchanged bewildered looks again when Natalie said, "Let's pray for our trip."
And Avonlea stated later that she thought it strange that Miss Natalie still needed the GPS to find her way home from Friday school.
Natalie and I could barely look at each other, our excitement had been simmering for months and was now boiling over. The problem was, the girls didn't seem to notice. Neither did they notice that we were not driving home but the opposite direction....for an hour. They knew that we were all together and that was enough.

Finally I asked Avonlea to get something out of my bag in the backseat.
"Hey, why is my tooth brush in here?" Pause.
"Am I spending the night with Gabrielle?"
Eruption of girlish glee.
More driving. Minutes tick by. My veins are throbbing, this can't be good for me.
"Mommy are you spending the night too?"
This time more of an open mouth, "this is weird", kind of surprise.
I couldn't take it anymore, at this rate they wouldn't know we were going to the beach until we were home.
"Don't you want to know where we are going?"
Finally the question, and eventually the answer (I had to make them feel my pain for a few minutes before we told them).

The reaction was well worth the wait. Gabrielle's dimple bored it's way through her cheek, Avonlea squealed, Natalie and I dissolved in laughter bordering hysterics at the strain of anticipation.

And then..... the weekend and memories that can't be given voice skillfully enough. I couldn't do it justice. But we thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful girls that God has blessed us with (even if they were born curiosity deficient). When I think of this weekend I know I'll feel, to quote my daughter, "a thrill running all the way through me," (she was talking about why she likes to touch electric fences).

We're thinking Paris when they're 16. I wonder when they'd notice we were on a plane? But I suppose it wouldn't matter. They'd know we were together, and that will always be enough.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


"Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
With eyes of gold and bramble-dew"

I found the following note on my pillow...

You dearest thing I love you. Your eyes are like spring buds. Your lips quiver, your eyes quake, but you are very very brave. Tomorrow could I please play computer and make a cup of tea for you and me. Could we just have a tea party? APK Avonlea. I'd have to be brave if my lips and eyes were quivering and quaking!
This daughter of mine whose birthday we celebrate is a rare soul. She's the only person I've ever met that seems to belong more in a book than real life.

At pictures last week the photographer kept saying, "Say, I'm a monkey! Say I'm silly!" As we walked out Avonlea looked at me in disgust and said, "Was she an evolutionist or what?"

Avonlea was vacuuming the basement for me a few months back. She yanked the vacuum and the cord came unplugged and she kept vacuuming until I called her attention to it quite awhile later.

She mentioned to me that maybe we should get a bigger house so that Daddy and I could have our own rooms. I told her I liked sleeping with Daddy and that's what married people did. She replied, "Yeah but now that Daddy's been newshured wouldn't you like some privacy?"

My first attempt at gluten free muffins were critiqued with this creative response, "It tastes just like sand, and the blueberries are the jellyfish that got washed up at high tide."

And tonight after painting a picture for her friend and pouring a bowl of sesame oil (expensive, whole foods sesame oil) to dip her fingers in and blend the pastels, she poured the remaining oil back in the bottle. And she didn't understand why this was a problem.

So this little artistic, passionate, loving girl has brought us laughter and chagrin for 10 cherished years. Thank you God for Avonlea!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Soul Origami

Did you ever feel that the wide expanse of your soul was taken and with a few tucks and bends made into a new shape? A particularly useful shape perhaps, but not one that even vaguely resembled the original expanse. The far flung passions and arts that I love have been deftly folded and formed into the shape of wife, mommy, teacher.
Last night Dave let me yank and unfold and open up the soul. I smoothed the creases and I remembered who I am. Who I was before babies and home-schooling and allergies. Who I still am underneath the folds but often lost in the origami creation. We laughed at the wild days. We marveled at the carefree lifestyle we thought would last forever. We traced the defining moments that skillfully made the tucks and edges that would change everything. And we dreamed. Not dreams for our children but dreams just for us.
And my soul was fully aired. Washed in the flow of ideas and hung to dry in the sunshine of communion.
This morning my littlest boy climbed into bed, held me tight, and whispered, "You're just the best mommy in the world." My big boy lay cupped in my bent legs. My husband's curly head rested on my shoulder. My girls ran in and climbed aboard. And somehow, I found it very easy to let my soul slip back into the shape of wife, mommy, teacher because I knew a very skillful Hand had created this origami design just for me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Rose by any other name....

...could never be as sweet as my Rose.

This moment, three years ago I was laboring. Hard. I was determined to bring that baby into the world on Thursday the 12th. Not even my will-power (which is considerable) could make her come any sooner than her destined Friday the 13th. But as soon as she came, in the wee hours of dawn, the date no longer mattered. Nine months of discomfort, hours of labor pain, moody rides of hope and anxiety, prayers uttered unceasing, all of it slid from me into the abyss of past.
She was now.
That night they took her from me. Her body temperature had dropped too low and they were worried. She was in an incubator with an IV when I went to her. Somehow in that setting she looked much more frail, just a little tiny bud vulnerable to frost. I went to my bed empty armed. The next morning we went to her again but her incubator was empty. Alarmed, we went to the desk, "Where's Rose?"
Unconcerned they answered, "Oh we moved her."
"Down the hall to the right. Room 13."
Dave and I looked at each other. He knew it was coming, "Don't tell me 13 is just another number!"
But it was, after all, just a number. For she is a song and a star and a rose all rolled up into one. A poem in a cherry dress and Pooh panties. And for us, she's the last dream we will ever give birth to.
May God increase your bloom little one and trim your thorns as you learn to love and follow Him.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Welcome Home!

Lorrie Flem of TEACH magazine makes a strong case for kids and wife welcoming their father/husband home from work at night. His return is to be a cause for joyful celebration.

I may have over-achieved the goal.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Reaction to Silence

Last week there was this moment of thought that ran along the lines of, "I'm really getting this quiet thing. I think it's going to be much easier for me to talk less after this." Ahem.
I really don't think I've stopped talking for the past two days. I'm giving orders just to hear the sound of my voice. I'm singing, shouting, laughing because I can. I note the startled look in my children's eyes and realize the extremes they're dealing with. I haven't gotten all the talk out of me yet but everyone, including Dave, is sleeping. So I'm going to type it out.
Do you ever get a random mental picture of a person? When someone says their name an image is conjured? I do. When I saw Rachel of Frugal Mama on my blog I laughed because I have a funny mental picture of her husband. We went to highschool together. He drove a mustard colored volvo (cars aren't my forte, I might have slaughtered that). Anyway for a while one winter, his windshield wipers didn't work. So he drove to school in freezing temperatures admist thickly falling snow with his window down and his head sticking all the way out. I remember seeing him drive by and worrying that he was going to get too close to a stop sign or light post and end up with a concussion. So this is the mental image of him that always makes me laugh.
Then I started thinking about highschool superlatives and how it's possible that I'm the only one who lived up to mine. I was voted Worst Driver. Yes, I'm proud. Truly, I get into a car and my mind turns off. Maybe it's not deep enough for me, too rote, I don't know - but there it is. I've driven the wrong way down one ways more times than I care to admit. I've been pulled over more times than I can count (but never got a ticket!). But my incident in February tops them all because it was the most expensive.
I said I wasn't going to repeat this story but I'm in the mood. The night before we left for the beach I went to mock Friday school registration. I left registration my mind full of deep thoughts and drove toward the store. I vaguely realized that I was completely out of gas so I abstractedly pulled into the gas station and put in a couple gallons. It was dark, windy, very cold, and raining. I resumed my path to the store got off at the exit and my car died a violent death. Lurching, groaning, wheezing. I was at a very busy intersection and terrified. I got out of the car and ran leaving Dave a hilarious message on his phone. When he called me back a few minutes later he asked, "Where are you?" I replied quite honestly, "I'm in the bushes on 164th!" He came for me and we sat in Mom's car waiting for the tow truck. He probed, "Why would the van just die? What happened right before?" I replied, "I just got gas." Silence. "What kind of gas did you get?" "I got Chevron, the big green button." Ominous silence.
Apparantly I put diesel in our car and that's bad. But in all honesty, no one ever told me not to do that. Did you know? I suppose if Richard ever got a concussion from driving with his head out the window he would have said the same thing, "who knew that was a bad idea?"
Besides I have to live up to my title, I feel strongly about this. Mr. Will be President Someday is living on love in Nevada but I am still Worst Driver.
There, I'm talked out and can sleep in peace.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Big Surprise

Still talking like gravel sounds an hour before Good Friday service found my faith firm. When it came time I spoke clearly and audibly into the microphone. Sitting in the dark behind a black curtain I marveled that it was my dry rasping voice filling the candlelit room. And that it didn't sound dry and rasping but full of Christ life. I have no pretensions to my voice, it's not professional, it's not beautiful, but it's His.

Living lent with my family these past weeks gave me many good points of contact with them. One of my favorites was with Rowan. We were talking about how Jesus died for us and what that meant. Just us two alone in the kitchen. I said, "And that is how He died. But you know that's not all that happened, right?" Rowan's eyes twinkled and expanded and he answered, "No! He came back to life! AND THAT IS THE BIG SURPRISE!"

He ran off and I sat there stunned. The big surprise? When was the last time I looked at it as that? I've known the end of that story as long as I can remember. But do I? Really does Jesus ever stop surprising us? I think of this week and my struggles, of the mercy I never expect but always find, of the grace that brings joy even out of death, of the myriads of times Jesus has caught me off guard with His love, His forgiveness, His laughter. Yes, Jesus is the big surprise. May I never forget it.

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." Isaiah 49:15

Thursday, April 1, 2010


My helpers

I can't quote myself, since I'm not talking, so I'll quote the kids:
Avonlea, "Mommy when you're quiet everyone is quiet. The whole house is quiet."
Rowan asked me a question and Grant replied, "She can't answer you, she's on a word diet."
Rowan muttered under his breath, "I wish she'd just go to the doctor!"
And God said, "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength." (Isaiah 30:15)


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